Praying for an end to the ‘holocaust of our time’

Led by Jude Huntz, Pastoral Associate at Visitation Parish, participants in the annual Prayer Vigil for Life, Jan. 19, link arms or hands and pray together for an end to abortion. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY — In 1973, the Supreme Court legalized abortion and in the 45 years since then, 60 million innocent lives have been lost. In Washington, D.C., and similarly in cities across the country, people march and pray, carry signs and speak from the heart, trying to get the word out to fellow citizens and put an end to the holocaust in our time.

On Jan. 19, as thousands marched in Washington, a small group of people converged on Ilus Davis Park across from the Federal Courthouse downtown. They had walked from the Catholic Center at 9th and Baltimore streets, joining others, to speak out for life and show support for the annual March for Life and those who minister to moms and dads and babies.

Before the mini March from Baltimore to Oak Street, the group had gathered in the Catholic Center’s Cardinal Baum Room, and heard Teresa Hoeppner of the diocesan Respect Life Office speak of the 21st century holocaust. One in three or four women in the Kansas City area have had an abortion, she said, and every single one is a tragedy. It’s not only the babies, she continued, it’s the moms, dads, grandparents and siblings who suffer, often grieving in silence for years.

Deacon Chuck Koesterer of St. James Parish in Liberty, led the group in praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Before starting the Chaplet, he said that “pro-life ministries would go on even if abortion were to end tomorrow because of its ripple effect” on families.

At the park, Master of Ceremonies Jude Huntz of Visitation Parish, introduced the speakers.

Stan McClatchy of Missouri Right to Life, Western Region, welcomed the speakers and the rest and said this was an annual event for 20 years.
The invocation was led by Rev. Richard Prim of Connections Church Online. He spoke of three powerful ways of protecting life from conception to natural death: education, legislation, and action. Action was what the group at Ilus Davis Park was participating in.

Teresa Hoeppner was the next speaker. Speaking of the diocesan Project Rachel, she reminded the group that “Our God is a God of miracles. Life is a miracle from God and so it is sacred and must be cherished and protected.” Project Rachel offers one day, confidential retreats for post-abortive women and men to help them heal and know forgiveness from God.

Hoeppner was followed by Geraldine Jones of the Wyandotte Pregnancy Clinic. It is the only one in Wyandotte County, she said. “In 2017, we did 525 sonograms, saving babies’ lives.” Jones spoke of the ministry and how it works, and added that in that week, three moms had chosen life for their child. “We touch the world for God: our moms originally come from the Philippines, Somalia, Kenya, Afghanistan, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador … We want to make abortion unthinkable, one life at a time.”

Linda Burgess of If Not for Grace ministry asked, “How do you feel about people who’ve had abortions?” About 9,000 are done in Kansas City area annually. “Most women are silent about it for fear of condemnation. We need to listen to them, listen to their story and extend grace to them as Jesus would. No longer condemn them but reach out in grace and healing.”

Annie Fowler of Kansas City Coalition of 40 Days for Life spoke of the sidewalk prayer ministry and how it works. Surgical abortions are only performed in two locations within walking distance of each other in Overland Park, Kansas and in between them is a pregnancy resource center. In Missouri, the RU 486 abortion pill is in use again.

She said that in the past decade, 5,251 40 Days for Life events have occurred in 40 countries and 14,000 lives saved. She added that 170 abortion workers have quit their jobs and 90 abortion centers have closed. As she was talking, two cars went by, honking and hands waving.
Hope Ortego of Mothers Refuge was next. She said currently they have eight moms under age 21 and six babies living in the safe, loving home, and the moms are continuing their educations, thriving under their support system and planning futures with their babies.

Theresa O’Donnell of Rachel’s Vineyard, spoke of God’s hands at work in the retreat ministry, calling abortion a travesty, and praying for the babies, the moms and dads and for the abortionists.

Kathy Edwards of Rachel’s House, spoke of 26 years in the ministry, a crisis pregnancy center. She described sonograms, “where baby auditions for its little life,” and many times succeeding, the new men’s programs, and that this is a generational ministry, saving lives now and into the future.

Marsha Middleton of Alliance for Life, spoke of the front-line ministry that supports Rachel’s House, Mother’s Refuge and Wyandotte Pregnancy Clinic and many more, serving as a unifying voice for them. She also offered a prayer for those lost and those wounded by abortion since Jan. 22, 1973. She also prayed for those in the abortion industry and lawmakers, that they will change.

Jude Huntz led a short Benediction, and people began drifting back to their cars or to the Catholic Center.

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Tuesday
May 22, 2018
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph